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Starbucks coming to CRA district

By Staff | Jun 11, 2013

For a long time, the Community Redevelopment District has sought a pedestrian friendly business that will get people out of their cars and onto the sidewalks.

On Tuesday, at the monthly CRA meeting at City Hall, it got one.

The CRA board unanimously voted to get the ball rolling on a proposed Starbucks on the corner of Cape Coral Parkway and Chester Street.

The move brings another big-name retailer to the CRA District, fulfills requests from those who live and work there, and brings in a more upscale demographic, said Dana Brunett, economic development director.

“They approached us. We’ve been marketing to them in Orlando and Las Vegas and they’ve wanted to come here, but it had to be the right location,” Brunett said. “They found the location, the problem was the cost structure doesn’t work.”

The city will use $27,000 in Tax Increment Funds to help defray the $78,000 in cost overruns. Were it not for that, Brunett said Strabucks simply would not have come here.

“It shows if we do a little bit of partnership and work with them, they’re willing to do this now,” Brunett said. “It brings something downtown that people have been asking for that fits in there.”

Estero Bay Capital will construct the 1,800-square-foot, stand-alone building, which they said was a ready-to-build plot and fit the characteristics Starbucks was looking for.

Jeff Stultz, of Estero Bay Capital said Starbuck will act as an anchor, hopefully bringing other national companies nearby and increase property values.

“They’re trying to create a walkable downtown and the characteristic of every downtown is to have a place to meet and hang out, a place of congregation,” Stultz said.

The CRA commissioners were enthralled by the development.

“It’s about time. This is a great opportunity we’ve been looking this for many years,” commissioner Marty McClain said.

In other business, the CRA board voted 6-1 to approve the budget drawn up by executive director John Szerlag, with one caveat being that the contract of economic development director Helen Ramey will be extended to the end of the year. Her contract was to expire at the end of October.

The board also approved an ordinance to create a CRA advisory board, voted 5-2 to uphold the new bi-laws that would make meetings happen bi-monthly with a 6 p.m. start, with the board having the right to call special meetings if the need arises.

Toward the end of the meeting, it was brought up the August meeting could be held downtown, with John Carioscia suggesting The Hampton Inn or the Realtors Association.

Ralph Santillo, who runs the building that houses the Invest in American Veterans Foundation, said he would donate his building, the former Sweet Bay, for the CRA’s use at its next meeting.

Chairperson Rana Erbrick said the meetings were moved to City Hall so they can be videotaped, but was amenable to holding the next meeting downtown, which will by Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. at a location to be determined.